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  • Andrew von Dadelszen

Government needs to put New Zealand into lock down now

Source: Bryce Edwards, NZ Herald, 22nd March

The Government says it is "going hard and going early" to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. But how true is this? Some public health experts and commentators do not believe the Government is being radical enough, and that the consequences, in terms of life and death, could be huge.

....This article is well worth your consideration ....

Leading the charge for a more radical approach is University of Otago Professor of Public Health, Michael Baker, who has been advocating for months that an aggressive approach is required to stave off disaster. Baker, who is an expert in the spread of pandemics and how to control them argues that New Zealand is wrong to take what he sees as a "conservative" approach in which it is accepted that Coronavirus will become widespread here with the emphasis on managing it.

He argues New Zealand has a small window of opportunity to stop the spread of coronavirus, and needs to take extreme measures, such as an immediate lockdown of the country: "It sounds melodramatic to say now or never, but I think it's the case". He advocates the Government immediately lift the official Alert Level to Three or Four.

Baker's strategy also involves much more testing than is currently being done. His method is more in-line with the important paper released by the Imperial College of London, which debunked the "flatten the curve" approach New Zealand has been following and called for a drastic suppression approach to the epidemic.

Baker's views are clearly laid out by Marc Daalder in his article yesterday: The case for lockdown now . According to this, Baker believes the Government's current strategy seeks to avoid disruption but will actually be worse in the longterm: "It's extremely inconvenient to do this but the alternative is we follow everywhere else in the world, excluding parts of Asia, towards a certain future of widespread transmission."

Here's his main argument for an immediate lockdown: "In order to scale up the testing regime and catch further potential cases of community transmission, time is sorely needed. As long as the virus has time to circulate in communities through everyday social interaction, it becomes that much harder to find, contain and suppress, Baker says. A lockdown would freeze the virus where it is, allowing the Government to identify extant cases, halt the spread and dedicate time and resources to increasing our testing capacity and hiring more workers to contact trace."

His views are also reported by Pattrick Smellie in the article: Shut everything now: Govt still behind the curve – health expert . In this, Baker says the New Zealand Government still has the ability to avoid the fate of other countries, but this "means acting very decisively and things that risk looking like an over-reaction. Nothing is an over-reaction at the moment. They are not doing enough. They have to shut the country down now."


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